Bleed With Me: Menstruants Finally Have More Options So Let’s Talk About Them Extensively

Rosanna Stevens
10 min readApr 16, 2019

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single menstruating person in possession of a tampon, uses between 8,000 to 17,000 of them in a lifetime (depending on how often they bleed). That’s about 140 kilos of sanitary waste per person.

Disposable pads and tampons influence and challenge two inescapable environments we engage with daily: the one we live in, and the one that lives inside of us. Disposable pads and tampons are like chewing gum: menstruating people consume a lot of them, and many are made of a type of plastic so they are terrible at breaking down in the ocean or on land. Basically we’re just leaving bloody junk everywhere for the bears, sharks and dogs to choke on.

Also, brands aren’t obligated to list the ingredients and chemicals that go into manufacturing disposable items, which is why on the Tampax website, they can tell you that one of the ingredients that goes into a tampon is ‘fragrance’ which is made of, specifically, ‘Fragrance ingredients like those found in other women’s products’ which also don’t have to list what ‘fragrance’ is made of. When you are leaving a wad of bleached rayon and cotton in a warm, moist environment — like a nose, or a vagina — it’d be nice to know what that wad is releasing over the course of a few hours while it’s also soaking up millilitres of blood. I’ll say it again: moist.

I wish I could tell you I was trying to be conspiratorial, but these are just things that have been studied and discussed and questioned over years and years. Today we’re at an exciting tipping point: when many of us menstruate, we are able to pursue alternative options to our traditional sanitary bread and butter. And I have tried these alternative options so I can report on every conceivable aspect of their comfort, cost, efficacy and mission.

A few years ago I complied this list of reusable menstrual products, dedicated to helping you know what you’re putting in, on, and around your bleeding vagina for up to ninety days of the year: how menstrual technology works, where it comes from, and what it can do for you and the world around you. I complied it because periods today are treated as an agent of change — and products are often sold as part of that change, so it’s worth being educated about them. It was published in Australia, I was paid sweet dollars, and then the publication folded and I was given the piece back, so I’ve updated…

Rosanna Stevens

Someone's albatross, someone's wild geese. Writer, musician, humourist, researcher.